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Brown v. State

Supreme Court of Delaware

August 28, 2014

MICHAEL A. BROWN, Defendant-Below, Appellant,
v.
STATE OF DELAWARE, Plaintiff-Below, Appellee

Submitted June 25, 2014

Motion for Rehearing en Banc filed 9/9/14; Denied 9/25/14. Case Closed September 26, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for New Castle County. Cr. ID No. 0412008486.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND and VALIHURA, Justices.

ORDER

Leo E. Strine, Jr.

This 28th day of August 2014, upon consideration of the appellant's opening brief and the appellee's motion to affirm, it appears to the Court that:

(1) The appellant, Michael A. Brown, filed this appeal from the denials of his fourth motion for postconviction relief and motion for appointment of counsel under Superior Court Criminal Rule 61 (" Rule 61" ). Brown also appeals the Superior Court's denial of his motion for transcripts at State expense. The appellee, State of Delaware, has moved to affirm the Superior Court judgments on the ground that it is manifest on the face of Brown's opening brief that the appeal is without merit.[1] We agree and affirm.

(2) In 2005, Brown was indicted on numerous counts of Robbery in the First Degree, Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony. Brown was tried before a jury in 2006. At the close of the State's case-in-chief, Brown's trial counsel moved to dismiss five counts in the indictment, arguing that the State had not presented sufficient evidence to sustain a conviction on those counts. The Superior Court denied the motion to dismiss. At the end of the eight-day trial, the jury convicted Brown of most of the offenses charged in the indictment, including multiple counts of Robbery in the First Degree, Attempted Robbery in the First Degree, Wearing a Disguise During the Commission of a Felony, and Possession of a Firearm During the Commission of a Felony.

(3) On direct appeal, Brown argued, without success, that the prosecutor committed misconduct when delivering the State's closing statement. We concluded that the argument was without merit and affirmed the Superior Court judgment.[2] In his first motion for postconviction relief, Brown reargued the prosecutorial misconduct claim as an ineffective counsel claim, asserting that his trial counsel's failure to object to the prosecutor's closing statement was ineffective representation. Also, Brown argued that his trial counsel was ineffective for failing to move to dismiss the indictment on the basis of insufficient evidence. When denying the motion, the Superior Court ruled that both aspects of Brown's ineffective assistance of counsel claim were procedurally barred and that the underlying claim of insufficient evidence was without merit. The court found that:

The undisputed record contradicts Brown's claim that there was no direct or circumstantial evidence linking him to the crimes for which he was convicted. At trial, there was testimony from the victims of the robberies, surveillance tapes, testimony from the police, and evidence from a search of his person and home, all of which demonstrated that he was the perpetrator of the crimes. The Court thus finds that the jury had more than sufficient evidence to convict Brown.[3]

Brown did not appeal the Superior Court's denial of his first postconviction motion.

(4) In his second motion for postconviction relief, Brown asserted ineffective assistance of counsel based on his trial counsel's failure to present an alibi defense and to move to suppress illegally seized evidence. Brown's second postconviction motion was referred to a Superior Court Commissioner who issued a report recommending that the motion should be summarily dismissed as procedurally barred. The Commissioner found that the alibi defense claim was " substantially no differen[t]" from the insufficient evidence claim raised in the first postconviction motion, and that Brown should have raised " all that he believed was wrong with his counsel's representation" in his first ...


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